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Broad Street, Marischal College

A Category A Listed Building in Aberdeen, Aberdeen

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.1497 / 57°8'58"N

Longitude: -2.0968 / 2°5'48"W

OS Eastings: 394240

OS Northings: 806535

OS Grid: NJ942065

Mapcode National: GBR SCM.S9

Mapcode Global: WH9QQ.RKQC

Entry Name: Broad Street, Marischal College

Listing Date: 12 January 1967

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 354544

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB20096

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Aberdeen

County: Aberdeen

Town: Aberdeen

Electoral Ward: George St/Harbour

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

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Description

Archibald Simpson 1837-44; Robert Mathieson 1873; W W Robertson 1888-9; Alexander Marshall Mackenzie 1893-1906 (see Notes). Large and impressive predominantly Tudor-Gothic granite collegiate complex based around central quadrangle and courtyard. Dominated by Mackenzie's 80 metre Mitchell Tower and outstanding multi-pinnacled and crocketed fa├žade in the perpendicular Neo-Gothic style. Earlier Simpson building: Rubislaw granite, later work: Kemnay granite.

BROAD STREET ELEVATION: 1905, 3-storey basement and attic with central 8-bay section treated uniformly; bays divided by buttresses with crocketed spires and finials; tripartite leaded windows with stone mullions and sidelights to principal floors; bipartite wallhead gablets to attic with pierced stonework. Advanced entrance bay to left with engaged corner towers; wide, shallow-pointed arch with painted shields above; arcaded pend with ribbed vaulting leads to courtyard. Mackenzie's 1903 Greyfriars Church (see separate listing) at far right with tower and spire detail continuing in the Neo-Gothic style.

QUADRANGLE: Simpson's restrained 1837 Tudor-Gothic U-plan building: 2-storey with base course, cill course, hoodmoulds and simple blocking course; principal entrance with double-leaf timber door at Mitchell Tower to NE elevation flanked by 3-bay arcades to ground; 9-bay wings return, terminating with engaged octagonal ogee-capped towers. Later infill by Mackenzie completes quadrangle; cill courses, hoodmoulds, blocking course and window treatment reflecting Simpson's earlier work. Exit bay with triangular attic pediment flanked by engaged 4-stage ogee roofed towers; 3-bay to left and right of towers with large shallow-pointed arch windows to ground floor. Predominantly bipartite windows with decorative tracery set in square-headed openings to upper levels throughout.

MITCHELL TOWER: 1895 addition; tripartite, canted windows at 1st and 2nd floor with parapet above; clock face to quadrangle elevation only; large, mullioned and traceried tripartite openings to all four sides; ribbed clasping pinnacles and crocketed central spire.

MITCHELL HALL: abutts rear of quadrangle at right angles; 3-storey with main hall at upper level; dominated by tall, narrow gable to NE elevation with clasping pinnacled towers; tripartite canted bay rising to second floor with castelated parapet. Large round arched window above with intricate tracery. 5-bays to returning SE and NW elevations with perpendicular buttresses flanking openings. Pitched roof with flanking towers.

INTERIOR: U-plan Simpson building: entrance hall with bifurcated stone stair and pointed arch arcading and decorative Gothic timber handrail; fine fan-vaulted plaster ceiling with quatrefoil pattern; pair of halls flank central landing to NW and SE; both with corbelled Tudor arched ceiling with decorative Gothic timber ribs; timber gallery at NW hall. Remaining interior predominantly plain treatment with some parquet flooring and timber dado panelling and timber doors.

Mitchell Hall: main hall divided into two distinctive sections separated by a tall, narrow pointed arch. Larger section with Gothic timber panelling to dado and parquet floor. Smaller ante-room dominated by large stained glass tracery window (details). Pointed arch dividing 'nave' from 'chancel'.

Statement of Interest

Marischal College is Aberdeen's largest granite building and one of its most defining landmarks. At 400 ft long with an average height of 80 ft, its scale, quality of design and the distinguished work of the principal architects mark it out as a building of considerable importance and the culmination of 200 years of experience working with granite. Within the national context, the building can be seen as a direct expression of ideas of aggrandisement, municipal granduer and the confidence of an expanding Scotland. The skyscraper-perpendicular Gothic style, also used to great effect at Edinburgh's Scott Monument, encapsulates both the religious idealism and the civic confidence of late 19th century Scotland.

Archibald Simpson's replacement 2-storey Tudor style U-plan quadrangle in white Rubislaw granite was completed in 1844. Robert Mathieson undertook some additions and alterations to the basic design in 1873, while the SE wing of the quadrangle was doubled in width by WW Robertson in 1889. Simpson's central tower, originally three storeys high, was extended with MacKenzie's Mitchell Tower. During the same period (1893-7), Mackenzie added the large Mitchell Hall to the rear of the quadrangle, extended the NW wing, added the North East corner tower and rebuilt Greyfriars Church. At the beginning of the next century, a final scheme by Mackenzie dispensed with the earlier Broad Street elevation and replaced it with his masterful Neo-Gothic curtain wall and integrated tower extension to Greyfriars Church. Mackenzie took full advantage of newly developed machine technologies of the time, allowing the granite to be cut in ways that were previously impossible.

The college was originally founded in 1593 by George Keith, Earl Marischal as a protestant alternative to King's College, founded in 1494. By 1837, all earlier buildings on the site had been removed due to their deteriating condition.

Robert Reid's 1834 plan for the college survives, apparently based on a more strictly classical design by Simpson of 1825, which is now lost. The plans for Simpson's extant 1836 design are held at Aberdeen University's King's College Library. Mathieson, Robertson and Mackenzie plans are currently held at Marischal College.

Part of A Group with Greyfriars John Knox Church

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